A wave of mass sexual assaults by immigrants New Year's Eve has European officials scrambling to play damage control over their handling of the hundreds of thousands of Arab and North African immigrants imported into their communities over the last few years. A week after an "unprecedented" number of sexual attacks occurred in Helsinki, Finland, the Finnish police finally officially addressed the shocking incident, which they say "asylum seekers" planned in advance.
"There hasn't been this kind of harassment on previous New Year's Eves or other occasions for that matter," Helsinki deputy police chief Ilkka Koskimaki told AFP almost a full week after the attacks. "This is a completely new phenomenon in Helsinki."
"The suspects were asylum seekers," said Koskimaki. "The three were caught and taken into custody on the spot."
In an almost identical situation as the mass sexual assaults in Cologne Germany, the police say that around 1,000 "asylum seekers," mostly Iraqi (the Cologne suspects were described as North African and Arab), carried out "widespread sexual harassment" of women at a central square and three sexual assaults at the city's central railway station.
Most disturbing about the officials' statements is that the series of assaults were not isolated incidents or spontaneous occurrences, but heavily orchestrated, as appears to have been the case in Cologne. In a statement, Helsinki police explained that they had learned in advance about the planned attacks.
"Ahead of New Year's Eve, the police caught wind of information that asylum seekers in the capital region possibly had similar plans to what the men gathered in Cologne's railway station have been reported to have had," the statement explained, officials saying they arrested six Iraqi men just before New Year's Eve in connection to the information.
As bad as the situation in Helsinki was, the Cologne rampage was even worse, with around 80 reported cases of sexual assault by immigrant men New Year's. At first Cologne officials attempted to bury the horrific story, but when it finally broke, the pushback from the community and some European officials was forceful. Cologne's chief of police was pressured to resign while some German leaders called for major changes to immigration policy. Meanwhile, Cologne's pro-immigration Mayor Henriette Reker has announced that the government would be providing "guidelines" for how women should "prepare themselves" to prevent future attacks.
AP notes in November, "Finnish authorities said around 10 asylum seekers were suspected of rapes, among the more than 1,000 rapes reported to police in 2015."
Image (AP): Dozens of Middle Eastern migrants seeking asylum in Europe wait for food in a stadium in Athens, Greece. Dec. 11, 2015.